No Man’s Sky: solar system, galaxy - Games Weekly

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Wednesday, March 4, 2015

No Man’s Sky: solar system, galaxy

For centuries, writers have looked up at heavenly bodies and wondered what secrets those wanderers held. Before we had the technology to send robots to Mars or even to look at it more closely from Earth, the only way to reach other worlds was imagination. No Man’s Sky is imagination taken to extremes, an entire persistent digital galaxy created through an awe-inspiring process, both as a technical achievement and through the experiences it enables.


Following the fundamental rule of “show, don’t tell”, Hello Games has spoken little of mechanics or lore, but each of the handful of trailers that have so far been released conveys the exploratory, inquisitive spirit of the game. Whatever else players are able to do in No Man’s Sky, the initial instinctive desire is to touch down on one of these procedurally generated planets and explore. It’s sci-fi. It’s human nature. It’s all of the five following things.
 “Normally as a developer, your game doesn’t often surprise you, but I’ve just been grinning ear to ear as I’ve explored”
A SINGULAR GOAL THE REST IS UP TO YOU
Though lacking the segmented structure of a narrative game or the side-quest shopping list of an MMO, No Man’s Sky does have an overarching goal for those who like direction in their games. Each player begins on a different planet near the edge of the galaxy, with a simple spaceship nearby ready to take them into orbit. The galaxy is your oyster, but a glance at the map will reveal a mysterious pearl at the centre. To reach that core and discover its secrets, you’ll need to get a better ship, and for that you’ll need money. Wonderfully, you’re enriched through your galactic discoveries, selling off resources collected in your travels and fuelling the next leg of  the journey.

A VERY BIG THING THAT CONTAINS A GREAT NUMBER OF PLANETS
Reaching the centre of the galaxy will take time, surrounded as it is by hundreds of millions of solar systems. This game world is beyond huge practically infinite if technically limited. Hello Games has spouted ridiculous numbers, stating that even if planets were discovered at the rate of onea second it would take billions of years to find them all. That’s not all stored on a server somewhere. Instead, the galaxy’s persistence is borne through mathematics. There are no loading times because the code ensures that for each player, each part of the galaxy is created afresh as they approach, identical each time.

A BUNCH OF DIFFERENT WAYS TO GET FROM A TOB
Throughout your journey, travel is possible on a range of scales. You can walk across a planet’s surface or, if you’ve upgraded your suit, explore any rivers or even underwater caverns. Abasic spaceship can take you through the air at speed or lift you into orbit, but get yourself an interstellar drive and you can even warp between whole systems. You choose your pace in every sense. Recently, Hello Games showed another, more mysterious mode of travel: portals. Apparently discoverable on a planet’s surface, these are doorways to other planets, and the distances that they can take you across are as of yet unknown.

TEEMING WITH LIFE, JUST NOT ON EVERY PLANET
Life in No Man’s Sky exists in many forms. While only a relatively small percentage of planets will host plants and animals, that’ll only enhance the joy of actually discovering a new species. Many players will be counting down the time to their first giant lizard commonly known as space dinosaurs as seen in trailers and screenshots. As for more intelligent creatures, each solar system hosts a space station at which you can sell your goods, and some planets also play host to giant robots. And if AI isn’t enough, there’s always the potential to come across other players as you cross paths in the void of space.

SO MASSIVE THAT EVEN MASSIVELY MULTIPLAYER COULD FEEL LONELY
Despite ticking all of the boxes, particularly the first, No Man’s Sky isn’t really an MMO, at least according to the developers.  Given the immensity of the galaxy and the fact that each player begins their journey on a different planet, each of which could be the size of the Earth, incidental meetings will be rare and intentional ones a challenge. Any loneliness will be offset, however, by the player names that appear by each discovered planet on the galaxy map. We predict at least some of those names will have been chosen to elicit a chuckle, too.

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